Mull over Richard Mulcaster

Richard Mulcaster was born in Cumberland, England in 1531. He was a highly-educated man who attended Eton, Cambridge, and Offord university. He spent some time as a headmaster and a teacher in several schools including: Merchant-Taylors’ School and St. Paul’s. Mulcaster also owned and operated a few private schools in his time. The reason why people still talk about him and know him, is because he wrote the book Positions Concerning the Training Up of Children in 1582, and then another book titled The First Part of the Elementarie in 1582. Mulcaster was an advocate for special university training for teachers (much like the training that doctors and lawyers received at university). But not only training, he also fought for teachers to have adequate salaries, for the best teachers to be assigned to teach lower grades, and a close association between teachers and parents. However, he also advocated for a careful selection of teachers which meant that not everyone could qualify to be a teacher; it would be more difficult for the average person to become a teacher. Mulcaster realized that there was value in looking at each individual student and adjusting curriculum to meet the needs of the individual (because we all learn differently. Another thing Mulcaster advocated for was that progress of a student would be based on their readiness (skills and knowledge they had attained), rather than their age. (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica)

Not only was he an advocate for the education system making a change; Mulcaster was also advocating for making some major changes to the English language. “His book Elementarie (1582) was a collection of 7000 common words and there recommended spelling. This was a very extensive and important treatise on the English spelling of that time considering that spelling had been an issue of that time. However, people of that time resisted the urge for radical phonetic reform in England, which is exactly what Mulcaster was trying to accomplish. Mulcaster was willing to standardize many customs and current usages if they could become universal (Baugh, Cable, and Ivonne 209 – 211). He worked more with cleaning up what the language already had, rather than adding to the language. Since everyone had their own way of spelling and writing in English, Mulcasters’ work really helped make the language universal at the time by setting certain writing rules. This process began with the removal of unnecessary letters from words including: putt, grubb, ledd (put, grub, led) (Baugh, Cable, and Ivonne 209 – 211). Mulcaster allowed double consonants to remain only where they belong to separate syllables, but usually not at the end of words except for the double “L.” (Baugh, Cable, and Ivonne 209 – 211). He also added the final –e to words that end with a “v” or “z” sound, and to words that end in a softly pronounced “I”; when the “I” is pronounced ‘loud and sharp’ he uses –y instead of –e (Baugh, Cable, and Ivonne 209 – 211).  Changes to spelling like Mulcaster made was meant to help everyone spell words the same way so that the language was understandable. Although his changes were viewed as radical, “his book has the great merit – or demerit – of standardizing a large number of current spellings, justifying them, and advocating the consistent use of them” (Baugh, Cable, and Ivonne 211).” (Wallace).


Baugh, Albert C, Thomas Cable, and PIERRON IVONNE. MISIONERO DURANTE LA DICTADURA (Spanish Edition). 6th ed. London, United Kingdom: Routledge, 2012. Print.

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Richard Mulcaster | English Educator.” Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p.: Encyclopedia Britannica, 9 June 2006. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.

Wallace, Courtney. “Mid-Term Question 2 Answer.” 2016.

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